Friday, May 05, 2006

Soilent Green Rankings-APRIL

THE EAGLE HAS RISEN........................Vegalta Sendai has truly been the team to beat in J2 circles, going an astounding 5-3-0 for the month of April. Meanwhile, Tokushima Vortis has seen the bottom drop out of their season. Some teams rise, others fall, but one thing remains certain..........Ruy Ramos has a really bad perm. Anyhow, let's go to the board!

1. VEGALTA SENDAI (April points-18, Season 24, Goal differential +17) Sendai has been the perfect storm of big offense and strong defense. In April they had a plus goal differential of 13, only allowing 2 goals. Borges, Lopez, and Thiago Neves have been perfect in the role of foreign helper, leading the offense while keeper Daijiro Takakuwa has been impenetrable in between the pipes. They tend to win big as well, 5 of their games have been victories by 3 goals or more.
Coming up-Shonan Bellmare

2. YOKOHAMA FC (April points-14, Season 22 +1 game, GD +8) The shock team in J2. After the purging of their coach and the ascension of Takaki, it looked like the team was headed into the bowels of the second division. An amazing display of defense led by GK Takenori Sugeno has put Yokohama FC near the top of the table. A potential problem in the future is the possible loss of team captain and defensive anchor Steven Tweed to Dundee in the Scottish Premier League. They need to find some scoring as well......1 goal a game isn't going to cut it forever.
Coming up-Tokushima Vortis

3. KASHIWA REYSOL (April points-12, Season 25, GD +10) Two fortunate meltdowns by opponents Tokyo Verdy and Consadole Sapporo have helped Kashiwa barely keep their grasp on the top position in J2. A twelve game run without a break probably had a part to play in their losing steam. MF Tatsuya Suzuki has been key in facilitating attacks for Chiba's other team. GK Minami and the back 4 have stumbled a bit after a stellar start
Coming up-Thespa Kusatsu

4. TOKYO VERDY 1969 (April points-12, Season-21 +1 game, GD +2) Big Green has been the perfect example of one-dimensional. The offense has been spectacular and the defense has been, well, not so much. I think this reflects the coaching of Ruy. He has also been erratic, showing flashes of brilliance on-field and nervous and erratic decisions off of it. Basilio and Hiramoto have been stellar , ranking 1 and 2 in goals scored. Hopefully, the starting 11 in the Consadole game (minus Iio) can get some time together and see what they can do. Consistency is the major need for Verdy.
Coming up-Ehime FC

5. CONSADOLE SAPPORO (April points-11, Season-17 GD +3) Dumb mistakes have cost major culprit has been Hulk, who instead of turning Green when he gets angry, turns red. 2 cards have led to 4 missed games. They had a recent rough patch where they went 0-1-2 against Verdy, Kashiwa, and Sendai, but have managed to feast on bad teams. Haven't come close to playing their best.
Coming up-Mito Hollyhock

6. SHONAN BELLMARE (April points-11, Season-18 GD -2) They are not good or bad.....perfect place for them is the middle. On any given day, they can beat Vegalta or Verdy, tie Kashiwa or Tokushima, or lose to Mito. Yusuke Sato has been instrumental in setting the table on offense, but Satoshi Yokoyama has virtually disappeared after getting off to a hot start.
Coming up-Vegalta Sendai

7. SAGAN TOSU (April points-11, Season 15 GD -2) Not a particularly strong team but they represent themselves well at home. A four game unbeaten streak helped propel them to respectability and the far edges of promotion. They also boast the leading scorer not in green by way of Tatsunori Arai (6 goals 2nd in the league).
Coming up-Vissel Kobe

8. THESPA KUSATSU (April points-9, Season 12, GD -6) The past three games have seen the defense tighten up, posting shutouts in all 3. It's not hard to imagine how bad Thespa's defense would be without the stellar play of GK Takahiro Takagi. The addition of Chika into the back line has really helped as well.
Coming up-Kashiwa Reysol

9. MONTEDIO YAMAGATA (April points 9, Season 10 GD -7) For awhile there, it looked like Yamagata had figured out their problems. their penultimate match was a 3-1 drubbing of Kashiwa in Kashiwa. However, a recent stretch has seen them drop 2 of 3 and tie a less than impressive Ehime squad. The 2 L's , Leandro and Leonardo have shown flashes but haven't been consistent, much like the team.
Coming up-BYE

10. VISSEL KOBE (April points 7, Season 16 GD -1) Stuart Baxter still hasn't got his squad playing consistent roundball. It seems like Kobe follows up a good game with a bad loss. Atsuhiro Miura has been the most consistent player on an inconsistent squad. Baron has been a non factor.
Coming up-Sagan Tosu

11. EHIME FC (April points 6, Season 12 GD -6) For the talent they have, they have been respectable. No depth to speak of, but they always play hard and put themselves in position to steal games. Keisuke Hada and the back 4 have really stepped it up. No real scoring threat to speak of and they get hurt by not having any foreign imports to help.
Coming up-Tokyo Verdy

12. MITO HOLLYHOCK (April points 5, Season 12 GD -7) Started off well, but a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Vissel sent the little dragons of Ibaraki into a funk. Probably not a good sign that DF Takafumi Yoshimoto has scored almost half of the teams goals at 4. Will they always be Kashima's ugly little sister? (Thanks OF!)
Coming up-Consadole Sapporo

13. TOKUSHIMA VORTIS (April points 3, Season 10 GD -9) How bad is Jun Tamano? He gets run out of Verdy by retread Hideki Nagai (Which I criticized voiceferously.........I'd like to take it back) and now can't even get on the field for the worst squad in the second division. Especially bad on the road (1-0-5 for a big total of 3 points) and mediocre at home (1-4-1 7 points at home). Shinji Tanaka might be the next coach to go if form stays the same.
Coming up-Yokohama FC

High risers-Vegalta Sendai (MARCH 8/APRIL 1)
Mighty fallers-Tokushima Vortis (MARCH 5/APRIL 13)
Holding steady-Tokyo VERDY (MARCH 4/APRIL 4)

The season is at the quarter mark and the cream is starting to rise to the top. More questions than answers for the three relegation victims of 2005.

Look for another ranking in the first week of June!

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